Cage the Elephant’s Brad Shultz | Being Honest with Yourself

 Cage-the-Elephant 75I think the difference is, on this record, we weren’t trying to prove anything, except to ourselves.

Cage-the-Elephant 500

The elephant has been released.

Melophobia, Cage the Elephant’s most recent endeavor, blends their classic garage rock sound with innovative track twists, displaying evolution and originality.

I spoke with Brad Shultz, Cage the Elephant’s rhythm guitar player and brother of lead vocalist, Matt Shultz, to talk tour, inspiration, and evolution. He explains, for this album, “It was about us being honest with ourselves.” This honest approach really paid off and is exactly what sets Melophobia apart from previous records.

Lyrics like “I’m so tired of the demands in this world/ her nagging voice/ the songs she sings,” — featured as a spoken word piece on the track “Teeth” — is one example of the blunt tones this album interlaces. The track “Spiderhead,” one of Brad’s favorite tracks on the album, is also set apart on the album.

“We just wanted to find a really cool way to transition into that last ending part — where it develops into that 50’s style — we experimented a lot, but that was the one way that really stuck out to us,” Brad said. “It sounds a little cliché but you just get this feeling inside when something is perfectly right.”

Getting the lyrics “perfectly right” has always been a struggle for the band, but a new goal of replacing forced poetry with raw language altered the definition of right. I asked about where this honesty stems from.

“Matt was really striving lyrically to not have honesty suffer because of poetics. He wanted to portray something through his lyrics and realized that he didn’t always have to be so poetic with the way he went about it,” Brad said. “On this record, we didn’t want to — not that we were just settling for stuff on our other two records — settle for anything. We really wanted to make a point to be hypercritical of ourselves.”

In order to fully see this band’s progressive nature, you have to understand where they started.

“We are from Bowling Green, Kentucky, a town of like 40,000 people, and when we first started writing songs, it was just to play for people at parties,” Brad said. “Matt and I would come up with a song in like a week and be like, ‘yes, now we get to go to a party and jam out to this.’”

Next the band moved to England and lived in London for about two years.

“We strived to pull ourselves out of that little Kentucky box,” Brad said. “A lot of people wrote us off as a one hit wonder band, and so we were really striving to grow musically and show people that we were more than that.”

During the making of Melophobia, some of the band members cut back on listening to recorded music to look inside for internal inspiration, but this was not the case for Brad.

“I was influenced by bands coming up more than anything … especially bands in the Nashville scene. Nashville has some really cool underground bands like Bad Cop, Plastic Visions, and Ranch Ghost. There are just a ton of really cool bands in Nashville right now.”

The band’s first two albums led to almost five years of non-stop touring. With just a year off, they are back on the road but with a slightly different energy.

“I think the difference is, on this record, we weren’t trying to prove anything, except to ourselves.”

The album title Melophobia is defined as a fear of music.

“That is how the name Melophobia ties into everything. There is this outside fear that has been created I think, on a lot of artists today, whether it be to continue your band’s popularity or critical mass,” Matt said. “There is pressure and subconsciously your heart becomes astray from what you originally started writing music for — just because you love it.”

The tour kicked off in October and has included performances with bands Foals and Queen of the Stone Age. Overall, it’s gotten a lot of positive feedback from fans, as far as Brad can see.

“The crowds have been really receptive,” Brad said. “I have been really surprised that in this short amount of time the record has had that kind of impact on people.”

Looks like honesty may actually be the best policy. | Claire Musial

Cage the Elephant is coming to Pop’s in Sauget, Ill. on Dec. 16.

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